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Striving to Survive

Striving to Survive


A talk by Argentine scientist Ana Belen Elgoyhen highlights the problems faced by many biomedical researchers in Latin America.

Ana Belen Elgoyhen of the National Council of Scientific and Technical Research in Buenos Aires was among four of the new International Research Scholars who spoke at HHMI on February 27 at a luncheon where the awards were announced. In her remarks, excerpted here, she discussed the problems faced by young researchers in Argentina. Scientists from elsewhere in Latin America cited similar problems.

Many of us Latin American scientists have our roots and heart in our home country. That is the reason why I came back to Argentina in 1994, after a three-year stay as a postdoctoral fellow at The Salk Institute for Biological Studies. I knew already at that time that the future I was facing as a young scientist aiming to do science with high standards was by no means easy. And I still think so today after running a laboratory in Argentina for the last two years.

I came back to a country which was and still is undergoing drastic restrictions in the budget for science. Bright Argentine minds are spread all over the world and have made important contributions to the progress of knowledge. However, because of the tough situation Argentina is undergoing, which includes a lack of openings for new entrants, young investigators who come back after a successful postdoctoral training abroad are forced to think of emigrating once again or of quitting science.

On the other hand, there are young scientists who manage to survive within the Argentine scientific system. I consider myself to be one of those who is in a very unique and lucky situation.

Under our current situation, whatever help Argentine scientists can obtain from abroad will undoubtedly aid towards maintaining a scientific system which is striving to survive. It might also help to educate the Argentine community that if [an] organization such as the Howard Hughes Medical Institute believes in the minds and the work of the Argentine researchers, it is the responsibility of Argentina itself to support the work of its own scientists.